Since White Zinfandel wine came along, rosé (pink) wines in general have acquired a bad rep. Known as rosado wine in Spain and rosato wine in Italy, most newer wine drinkers expect all rosé wines to be somewhat sweet, just like the blush wines White Zinfandel and White Merlot. I can remember one of my early wine delights was the Portuguese-made Mateus Rosé. It had some residual sweetness that hooked me on wine when I first started drinking them. Maybe White Zinfandel is creating a whole generation of new wine drinkers.
Although they shouldn’t, many less experienced wine lovers turn their nose down at sweet wines. A wine drinker who does not care for sweet wines may avoid all pink wines thinking them also to be sweet. However, the drier rosés are making a comeback. Last year saw a rise in sales of dry rosé wines by 15%, and this year there are more pink wines in the retail stores.
While pink wines can be made from blending white wines with small amounts of red wine, winemakers usually make them from red grapes in which they leave pressed juice a short time with the grape skins so the wine is only partially colored by red pigment. Red grapes almost always have white juice, but the white juice becomes colored more deeply the longer it stays in contact with the red skins. If a winemaker removes juice from the skins within the first 6-72 hours, it never becomes as deeply colored as a normal red. The colors range from light salmon, to pink, to a deeper berry red, but one through which magazine type is still readable. Most rosé wines are white wines that masquerade as reds.
These pink wines are never highly rated by the experts. A Wine Spectator score of 90 is about as high as any rosé wine can get. Thus, they tend not to command high prices. It makes no sense because many of them can be delicious and refreshing and nothing beats a cold, dry rosé on a hot summer day. Sparkling pink wines such as a brut Rosé often cost a premium over brut sparkling white wines, but if a pink wine has no bubbles, the best it can aspire to is a value wine for regular table use. Consumers should cheer!
Southern Rhône grapes, especially Grenache or the Spanish Garnacha, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan seem to make the best rosé wines. Great rosé wines come from Côtes de Provence where Château d'Esclans makes several wines, my favorite being Whispering Angel. The appellation of Tavel in the southern Rhône produces only dry rosé, no white or red wines, and they are the favorites of many sommeliers. The Anjou region in the Loire Valley of central France also makes enjoyable rosés, mostly from Cabernet Franc grapes. A Spanish Navarra rosé is usually a winner. U.S. producers include A to Z Wineworks Rosé from Oregon, Cline Mourvèdre Contra Costa County Rosé, Quivira Rosé North Coast, Ampelos Syrah Santa Barbara County Rosé, and Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare Central Coast Rosé. I also like Napa Valley's Franciscan Estate which makes a tasty Rosé of Syrah.
Dry pink wines are becoming more trendy because they are excellent food wines, appetizer wines, and ideal greeting wines. The crisp, naturally refreshing acidity goes with any vinegar-based foods. Slight amounts of tannins from red grape skins compliment appetizers, dips and cured meat products, as well as cleanse the palate. In fact, rosé wine should be the national drink for any 4th of July outing. What could be better than a rosé with potato salad, hot dogs with mustard, pulled pork barbecue with a tangy sauce, baked beans, and slaw. Stock up this month with a few pink wines, dry or slightly sweet, it's your choice.